Donning a bulky jacket with a motorcycle helmet placed carefully over her hijab, Sura Hadad heads out on her Honda 500cc street bike for a spin around the newly created Nova Scotia riding where she is running in her first election.
The dentist is trying to win a seat for the Progressive Conservatives in Bedford South as one of four candidates.
The ride takes Hadad, an Iraqi immigrant, past blocks of new homes and apartment buildings, and by a school under construction to ease the strains caused by the population boom around Larry Uteck Boulevard and Gary Martin Drive.
Ethnically diverse, Bedford South is one of two new metro Halifax ridings created to reflect growth. The seat is made up from pieces taken from Clayton Park West and the former Bedford riding.
A newcomer to politics, Hadad said she did not recognize Tory Leader Tim Houston when he first recruited her to run.
“When I look at the person and I see their policies and they’re good for the community, I go for it,” said Hadad, who is also a part-time instructor at Dalhousie University in Halifax and has been recognized for her charitable work.
Area went solidly Liberal last time
While Hadad has a star candidate biography, when you take the votes from the last provincial election and transpose the results onto the new riding, the Liberals beat the second-place Tories in Bedford South by over 2,200 votes.
Liberal candidate Braedon Clark inherits a strong base.
He’s a former political assistant to two provincial cabinet ministers and currently works at National Public Relations.
He points to that new school under construction and the latest promise that a Bedford commuter ferry is at long last coming to ease notorious traffic congestion in the area.
“If you can take a ferry and it’s 15 minutes in the sun rather than 45 minutes in your car, I think most people would take that trade,” he said.
Will pandemic response be acknowledged at the polls?
Clark said he hopes Nova Scotia’s handling of the pandemic will be recognized when voters go to the polls on Aug. 17.
“We’ve really had one of the best responses in the world. And so I think that gives people confidence in government,” he said.
Asked how much credit Liberal politicians deserve, Clark replied, “I think that the main credit should go to listening to the experts right. Sometimes it’s not easy to do that when you’re in the political hot seat.
“I think Premier [Iain] Rankin and Premier [Stephen] McNeil before him recognize that we have a team of experts. They know what they’re doing. They will give us the best advice, even if sometimes it’s hard for people to follow that advice.”
Hadad lured into politics by frustration over health care
If Clark wants a referendum on the pandemic, Hadad said voters are concerned about deteriorating health care.
That’s why she was lured into politics.
“Well, number 1 is access to health. There’s about 70,000 Nova Scotians without family doctors. I was one of them for the last two years,” she said.
“I’ve been here for 30 years and I can’t access a doctor? Or the waiting time for surgeries. It’s so long. People get tired, people get sicker. Why do we have to suffer when we’re in Canada? We’re in an advanced country.”
On traffic congestion, she said a third lane on the Bicentennial Highway would help.
NDP talk traffic calming and climate change
New Democrat David Paterson — a school teacher — said if elected as Bedford South’s MLA, he will fight for traffic calming measures.
Paterson said he considers running in the election as an “opportunity to contribute to the greater good.” It’s something he said he feels passionately about as an educator who cares deeply for his community.
“I’m running because of the kids. I’m running because I’m deeply concerned about the future for the next generation, whether it’s the climate crisis, whether it’s affordability to make sure that young people have a safe, secure home to live in,” he said.
“I’m running for something better and I’m tired of waiting for change.”
The Green Party’s website says its candidate in Bedford South is Ron Parker.
Other new ridings in this election are Argyle, Clare, Cole Harbour-Dartmouth, Shelburne and Richmond.
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